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Our dogs give us the freedom to be unapologetically ourselves around them. How about giving them a little bit of this freedom too? It is undeniably every dog’s dream to just go where their nose takes them.
And, when it comes to Huskies, they were born to run wild. So, let’s learn more about how to train a Husky to walk off-leash, after all, it’s the leash we could do for them! 😉
Prerequisites of Siberian Husky off-leash training
Almost every pet parent, at some point, has thought about what it would be like to walk with their dog off-leash. Of course, not all of them can take such liberties with their dogs.
Off-leash liberty in unsecured areas is a privilege that can be enjoyed by dogs (studies show that going off-leash improves their health and welfare) and dog owners that have a reliable and solid training and behavioral foundation. This is absolutely key to preventing husky behavior issues like running away.
In other words, your Husky has to meet the following prerequisites to enjoy some off-leash time on their daily walks:
- A solid and reliable recall under any circumstance
- A strong impulse control
- Ability to ignore other animals and humans on walks
- Ability to walk away from a distraction on cue
- A solid “heel” command
- Ability to perform cues like Stay, Leave It, and Look reliably
- Absolutely no reactivity issues
When it comes to off-leash walking, it is not just the dog’s responsibility to embody perfect skills; the pet parent also needs to up their training and handling game.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
Getting started with Husky off-leash walking
Your Husky may walk like a dream on the leash (enviable if that’s true!). They may also respond to each and every cue that you give them.
If not, you must first know how to train a Husky to walk on a leash.
But does that guarantee that your Husky will do the same off-leash? At what point do you know that your Husky is ready to be let off leash?
Strong loose-leash walking skills are the foundation of off-leash walking. It is because when your dog chooses to stick with you even on the leash and the pulling is to a minimum, the majority of the time, it is an indication that your Kardashian is keeping up with you by choice.
A dog that chooses to be with its human and has the ability to respond to cues effectively, even in highly distracting environments can be trusted with some liberty, even in unsecured areas.
Having said that, it is safe and recommended to begin in highly secured areas like fenced parks and yards.
How to train a Husky to walk off-leash in 5 steps
1. Build a solid and a reliable recall
An excellent recall is the foundation of off-leash liberty for your Husky. Every Husky parent can vouch for their dog’s Houdini capabilities. Training your Husky to come when called reliably can also be life-saving in countless situations.
It is possible that your Husky may come back to you when called each and every time indoors and in familiar places like the backyard and the park you frequently visit. Make sure to work on good recall in a variety of situations ranging from low to high distractions.
Further reading: How to train a Husky to not run away
2. Work on a great impulse control
Impulse control, as the name suggests, is when your dog doesn’t act according to his impulse but takes time to think and make better decisions. Commands like Stay, Leave It, Drop It, Look, etc, are super helpful when teaching dogs the right way to behave in a public setting.
E.g., a dog that does not know how to stay may just bolt after a squirrel and end up risking his life. On the other hand, a dog that has been taught to stay at the sight of little moving things and animals is more likely to not take off after them and keep themselves and others safe.
Good impulse control also includes walk-aways. Your dog must be able to walk away from a stimulus when asked to, regardless of the distance between your dog and the stimulus.
3. Teach your dog to heel reliably
Heeling essentially means teaching your Husky to walk by your heel till released. This is super essential when crossing the road or walking by people and other dogs, especially the ones who do not wish to interact with the dog.
Your Husky doesn’t have to necessarily heel for the entire duration of the walk as that can be boring and unfair to both of you. As long as your dog can heel with full focus for a couple of minutes till released, you’re good to go.
4. Work on environment neutrality
It is absolutely okay for your dog to look at different stimuli like squirrels, other dogs, cats, birds, etc, and observe them for a while as long as he doesn’t chase after them and invade their space without consent.
Building environment neutrality means teaching your Husky to be predictably calm in the environment they are in, regardless of the number of distractions around them.
Say your Husky is sniffing something and spots another dog. If he gets back to sniffing and doesn’t react to the presence of the dog, you can safely say that your Husky is neutral towards the other dog and may be trusted off-leash.
Further reading: How to deal with an aggressive Husky
5. Use a long lead for the final transition
A leash that is over 15-20ft in length can be referred to as a long lead. After successfully training your dog through the first four pointers, it is time to provide a pseudo-off-leash experience to your dog to test its off-leash skills.
The long lead will act as a safety backup while you provide your dog with more space and freedom. It will make sure that your dog does not get into any kind of trouble. It is imperative that you should not have to use the lead to control your dog in any way.
E.g., if you call your Husky multiple times with no response and eventually end up using the lead to lure your dog back to you, your dog is not ready for off-leash liberty yet.
Similarly, while walking if you constantly feel leash pressure every other minute, you may have to practice a little more before you start letting your dog off-leash.
Before purchasing a leash, read my guide about the best leash for a husky.
Final thoughts about how to train a Husky off-leash
Being an advocate for your dog is one of the most important aspects of dog ownership. It may so happen that you may feel like your dog deserves some off-leash freedom, but if you have a reactive dog or a dog that is still in training, make sure that you prioritize the safety of your dog and the others around you over anything else.
Consider other alternatives to off-leash walking like walking on a long lead or letting your Husky run in a secure environment.
Can your Husky walk off-leash?
Share your experience and stories in the comments below.
You might also like to learn about the best tracking device for huskies.
How do I train my husky to walk off leash?
To train your husky to walk off leash, you need to start by getting them used to walking on a leash and obeying basic commands such as sit, stay, and come. Once they have mastered these commands and can walk on a leash without pulling, you can gradually transition to off-leash training.
What are the steps to train a husky to walk off leash?
The steps to train a husky to walk off leash are as follows: 1. Start with on-leash training and obedience commands. 2. Gradually introduce off-leash training in a secure, fenced area. 3. Use positive reinforcement and rewards to encourage good behavior. 4. Practice off-leash walking in low-distraction environments. 5. Gradually increase the level of distractions and practice recall commands. 6. Keep reinforcing good behavior and rewarding your husky for coming when called.
What should I consider before letting my husky walk off leash?
Before letting your husky walk off leash, you should consider the following: 1. Your dog’s obedience level and ability to follow commands, 2. The environment and potential distractions that may tempt your husky to run away, 3. Your husky’s prey drive and tendency to chase small animals, 4. The safety of the area where you plan to let your husky off leash.
How can I teach my husky to come when called?
Teaching your husky to come when called is an important part of off-leash training. You can start by using a long leash and practicing recall commands in a controlled environment. Gradually increase distractions and distance, always rewarding your husky for coming when called.
Should I use a harness or collar for off-leash training?
It is recommended to use a harness rather than a collar for off-leash training. A harness provides better control and reduces the risk of injury to your husky’s neck. It also helps distribute the pressure evenly if your husky pulls.
How do I handle encountering another dog while walking off leash?
If you encounter another dog while walking your husky is off leash, it is best to calmly and confidently keep your husky by your side. Use obedience commands and reward your dog for good behavior. If the other dog seems aggressive or uncontrollable, it is best to avoid close interactions and safely remove your husky from the situation.
How can I prevent my husky from bolting or running away when off leash?
To prevent your husky from bolting or running away, it is important to properly train and socialize them. Use positive reinforcement, rewards, and recall commands to reinforce good behavior. Start off with off-leash training in secure areas with low distractions and gradually increase the difficulty level as your husky progresses.
What if my husky has a strong prey drive?
If your husky has a strong prey drive, it is crucial to carefully manage their off-leash time. Avoid areas with small animals or potential triggers. Always keep a close eye on your husky and be prepared to use obedience commands and rewards to redirect their focus.
Is off-leash walking suitable for all dog breeds?
Off-leash walking may not be suitable for all dog breeds, especially those with high prey drive or a strong tendency to run away (like huskies 😂). It is important to assess your individual dog and their behavior before deciding to train them to walk off leash.
Can off-leash training help improve my dog’s obedience?
Yes, off-leash training can improve your dog’s obedience. It requires them to listen and respond to commands without the physical restraint of a leash. Off-leash training also provides mental stimulation and allows your husky to explore their surroundings more freely.